The (Real) Album of the Year: Class Clown Eats the Factory for Lunch - Guided by Voices [compilation of best tracks from Guided by Voices' three 2012 album releases, Let's Go Eat the Factory, Class Clown Spots a UFO, and The Bears for Lunch]
I, for one, think this was a fine year for music. I've been called out for giving out too many B+'s amongst my album grades over the last few months, but, if you think about it, it makes sense: at this point, I'm not going out of my way to listen to albums I think are going to be horrible. There are at least, what, 40-50 acts every year that are going to put out albums that I'm going to listen very closely to just based on my previous history enjoying the work of said acts; the rest of the stuff I end up hearing is based on either a (well-informed, I'd like to think) hunch or ideas from friends (usually Beafvy and Bricer). Again, it's not like I'm going around listening to the new Danielson or Grizzly Bear or Best Coast or Vivian Girls or whatever just so I can write something snarky and rubber stamp a "D-" on that garbage. Believe it or not, my time is actually worth more than that.
When 2012 was all said and done, I heard nearly 80 albums, with the final one being the EP Mogwai sneakily released this morning (spoiler alert: it's not worth spending actual money on). The majority of the albums listed below reached double digits in my play count on iTunes.
So, here's the list, unadorned by such frivolities as relevant information about the albums, cover art, or helpful links that would make it easier to locate the individual album reviews, wherever they may be on this site. [EDIT: fixed that.] I'd love to dress this post up and make it a little less bare-bones, but I'll be heading towards JFK in a few short hours, so yer on yer own.
So that's it for now, and I'll check in with y'all before Phish's upcoming 4-night run at MSG (unofficially titled "Four Bros, Four Shows"). HAPPY HOLIDAYS!
Turing Machine - What Is the Meaning of What -- Some of these tracks were recorded prior to drummer Gerry Fuchs' tragic death a few years ago. The rest of the band deliberated long and hard before deciding to complete these recordings, receiving assistance from some of Brooklyn's finest drummers along the way. It's Fuchs' relentlessly creative, propulsive drumming, in part, that makes this punchy krautrock album probably the best workout record of the year. Think Maserati but with more crunch and less reverb?
Best song: "Yeah, C'mon!"
Heavy Blanket - Heavy Blanket -- If you ever found yourself thinking, "man, I wish I could listen in on a J Mascis jam session when he's stoned off his ass," then this heaping plateful of noodly wankery might appeal to you more than it does me.
Beach House - Bloom -- Exactly two people have mentioned to me that they think this album "sucks." These people, in a nutshell, are assholes. (I know them well). Don't be an asshole.
Now, is Bloom as good as Teen Dream? No, it's not - there's a run of a few songs towards the end that don't quite live up to expectations. But let's not forget, people, Teen Dream is one of the finest records of the aughts, and, most importantly, Victoria Legrand's dusky vocals remain as irresistably charismatic as ever.
Best songs: "Myth," "Lazuli," "Wild," "Other People."